According to a space-valence association, individuals tend to relate negatively- and positively-connoted stimuli with the left and right side of space, respectively. So far, only a few studies have explored whether this phenomenon can also emerge for social dimensions associated with facial stimuli. Here, we adopted a cross-cultural approach and conducted two experiments with the main aim to test whether a left–right space-valence association can also emerge for other- vs. own-race faces. Asian Japanese (Experiment 1) and White Italian (Experiment 2) participants engaged in a speeded binary classification task in which a central placed face had to be classified as either Asian or White. Manual responses were provided through a left- vs. right-side button. In both experiments, other-race faces elicited faster responses than own-race faces, in line with the well-documented other-race categorisation advantage. Moreover, evidence of an association between space and ethnic membership also arose and, interestingly, was similar in both groups. Indeed, Asian faces were responded to faster with the right-side key than with the left-side key, whereas response side had no effect for White faces. These results are discussed with regard to possible cross-cultural differences in group perception.
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